Champion trainer John Gosden accounts for three of the 21 entries for the £100,000 G3 Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield Park on Saturday, February 22, details of which are revealed today.
Gosden captured the 10-furlong highlight in 2019 with Wissahickon and the Newmarket handler appears to hold a formidable hand once again, with Betway's 2/1 favourite Dubai Warrior spearheading his team.
Dubai Warrior, who was among the leading fancies for last year's Investec Derby until injury intervened, has won four of his five starts on the All-Weather. The latest of those successes came over the course and distance in the Betway Quebec Stakes on December 21, when he defeated stablemate and last year's Betway Winter Derby runner-up Court House by almost four lengths.
Gosden's final contender is the equally talented Global Giant. A Listed winner on the All-Weather for Ed Dunlop in 2018, the five-year-old made a sparkling debut for Gosden and new owner Isa Salman when impressively landing a nine and a half-furlong conditions race at Wolverhampton on January 6.
As well as being one of the highlights of the All-Weather Championships, the Betway Winter Derby is the last of four Fast-Track Qualifiers for the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic over the same distance at Lingfield Park on £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 10.
The previous winner among the entries is the 2018 victor Master The World, one of two hopefuls for trainer David Elsworth. No horse has won the Betway Winter Derby more than once.
Bangkok (Andrew Balding) enjoyed a solid campaign on turf in 2019. Following a decisive victory in the G3 Sandown Classic Trial in April, his efforts included runner-up finishes in the G2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and the G3 Strensall Stakes at York's Ebor Festival.
A potential dark horse among the entries is the Marco Botti-trained Felix (14/1 with Betway), who is going for a third straight win in the £19,000 Betway Handicap (2.50pm) at Lingfield Park this afternoon.
The four-year-old landed a Newmarket handicap on his final outing for Sir Michael Stoute in September, his first run following wind surgery, and made a promising start for current connections when swooping late to defeat All-Weather stalwart Pactolus (Stuart Williams) in an extended nine-furlong handicap at Wolverhampton on December 26.
Botti is no stranger to success in the Betway Winter Derby, having sent out All-Weather champion Grendisar to capture the spoils in 2016 on route to victory in the Betway Easter Classic.
The Newmarket trainer said: "Felix won nicely on his first start for us in a class two at Wolverhampton, and myself and the owners felt it was worth putting him in the Winter Derby, just to give us another option.
"He will have to go up a few pounds in the handicap for you to think about the Winter Derby, but he is a lightly-raced horse with a nice pedigree and is definitely open to improvement.
"The plan after Wolverhampton was to always aim for the class two at Lingfield today. It is a small field and could be quite trappy, but I am keen to see how he will handle track with a view to some of the bigger races later in the All-Weather season.
"If he does well tomorrow, then it will open up more options and you could possibly think about something like the Winter Derby Trial [February 1]."
Ireland's sole Betway Winter Derby entry is the Joseph O'Brien-trained Numerian. A dual winner on the All-Weather at Dundalk in 2019, Numerian has not raced since going down by a head in the G3 Diamond Stakes at the same venue in September.
There could be French representation courtesy of Villa Rosa, from the stable of Chantilly handler Henri Francois Devin. Villa Rosa has progressed to a good level on turf, with her biggest success to date coming in the G3 La Coupe at Maisons-Laffitte in September.
Others to note include G3 scorer Century Dream (Simon Crisford), Dalgarno (Jane Chapple-Hyam), who captured the Listed Prix Lyphard at Deauville in November, and dual Listed runner-up Extra Elusive (Roger Charlton).
Tickets to the Betway Winter Derby are available here, save £5pp when you book in advance